MANILA, Philippines — Newly-minted Philippines coach Thomas Dooley finally gets to link up with his big guns in Dubai next week when the likes of Stephan Schrock and Jerry Lucena return to action for the Azkals who face Azerbaijan in the Emirate on March 5.
Dooley, the former US World Cup skipper, who took the reins early this month, has actually called up 28 players for the first two matches of his tenure with United Football League standouts making up most of the lineup for the duel against Malaysia on Saturday.
The Europe-based Azkals crew will be available for the Azerbaijan clash which falls on a Fifa international date.
The two matches are part of the Azkals’ buildup for the AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives in May.
The Filipinos have been grouped with South Asian champion Afghanistan, Laos and 2012 finalist Turkmenistan in Group B.
“It’s a tough group so we have to prepare the best way possible,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.
Apart from mainstays Phil and James Younghusband, Patrick Reichelt, Jason de Jong, Jeffrey Christiaens and Misagh Bahadoran, Dooley has given former national players Anton del Rosario, Simon Greatwich, Ruben Doctora and Nate Burkey another opportunity to prove their worth.
Swiss League veteran Martin Steuble has been called up for the first time along with Fil-Dutch defender Andrew Liauw, former Ateneo keeper Nick O’Donnell and 19-year-old striker Kenshiro Daniels.
The lineup for Azerbaijan released by the Philippine Football Federation yesterday will also feature Thai Premier League star Javier Patino, Paul Mulders, Neil Etheridge, Roland Muller, Rob Gier and Juani Guirado.